Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This weekend was Labor Day Weekend, the official end of summer for most people.  Here in AZ we are still reaching 100+ degrees everyday, so our goal was not to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, but to get out of the heat and maybe see some trees.  We decided to do a quick day trip to a town about 100 miles away called Payson.  We mostly chose Payson when our Phoenix Guidebook told us that due to the elevation of 5,000 feet, the temperature is typically 20 degrees cooler than in the Valley (That is what they the Greater Phoenix area - THE Valley).  There were also some alluring words thrown around like "Mountains" and "cool pine forests".  Since this was a spur of the moment trip, we didn't have time to go too far, so we were sold.  The drive was about an hour and a half, and quite pleasant.  We started out in typical desert terrain, and as soon as we got out of the city it felt like we were in the Southwest of the movies.  I sometimes forget that we live in the Southwest, because rather than red rocks and cacti we are surrounded by concrete and transplanted palm trees.  But when I have a chance to see what the Southwest actually looks like, I can understand why people think it's beautiful here.
Red Mountain or Mt. McDowell
We started getting excited to see trees, and we passed through a "cactus forest".
Look at all the green!

 And we even found real shade, created by clouds!
We reached Payson, and drove down the Main street until we saw a body of water.  It turned out to be a possibly man made lake, but I was still excited.  Plus, it was surrounded by green grass and real, actual trees.  We parked and started walking around.  It just so happened that we found the Zane Grey Cabin and Rim Country Museum.
Lake with Museum in the background

Replica Zane Grey Cabin

 Zane Grey was an American novelist who wrote many best selling western novels during the first few decades of the 20th Century.  After our tour of the museum, we decided he also sounded like a jerk.  I'm a nerd who loves museums, and although this one was a little on the dry side, I still enjoyed it.  The cabin was a replica, as his original cabin was destroyed in a forest fire in 1990.  In addition to the Zane Grey Cabin, there was also a museum dedicated to the history of the region, from the earliest people who settled in the area, through the period that the Apache people lived there, and though the mining and logging periods by the white settlers.

While we were in the Museum, we missed a rain storm.  After leaving, we walked around the lake, enjoying the 90 degree weather and the ability to be outside for longer than 3 minutes.  After that, we decided that rather than eat at a mediocre restaurant, we would head home to our Weber and grill some flank steak.

I was pretty pleased with our first day trip, especially the realization that it isn't that difficult to get out of the city and into some areas that have something different to offer.
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